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Explore the Isle of Wight's Quirkier Museums

Wed 18 Dec 2013

Explore the Isle of Wight's Quirkier Museums

From Osborne House to the Roman villa in Brading, the Isle of Wight's best-known tourist attractions bring in the crowds whatever the weather, and with good reason. Not only do they offer a fascinating insight into the rich history of this small, picturesque island, they're also well-suited to welcoming visitors of all ages, with gift shops, cafes and a range of other facilities on hand to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
 
However, the island is also home to a number of lesser-known museums, many of which are just as intriguing and welcoming as their more famous counterparts. By visiting them, not only do you get to escape the crowds for an afternoon, you're also get to see a different perspective on one of the most culturally diverse and historically-rich parts of the UK.
 
Here are just a few widely-overlooked gems:
 
The Classic Boat Museum

Most tourists visiting the bustling port town of Cowes inevitably get drawn to the harbour, where yachts of all sizes dock year-round, with some skippers offering rides around the island. Few, however, get a better understanding of the vessels that dock here with a visit to the Classic Boat Museum, housed in the Town Hall. 

Here visitors are able to explore the history of seagoing on the island through artefacts including historic tools, books, photographs and films, most of which relate to boat building, but also to yachting and racing. Sitting alongside these smaller artefacts are a dozen or so historic boats, among them Black Bess, a ferry dating back to the 1870s. The museum really is a must-see for anyone with more than a passing interest in the nautical history of the Isle of Wight.
 
Bembridge Windmill

Of course, many walkers and bikers, and even Sunday drivers, stop to take a picture of two of the historic windmill located in the small town of Bembridge. Relatively few, however, take the time to step inside and learn more about this Grade I-listed building, thereby missing out on a charming insight into island life in centuries past.
 
The mill, which is now owned and maintained by the National Trust, is open to the public between March and November, with visitors able to climb its four storeys and learn more about how, from the 1700s, it was used to process corn and drive the local economy.  

Calbourne Water Mill

If industrial history is your thing then, as well as the windmill at Bembridge, you should check out the Calbourne Water Mill - especially if the sun is shining. The mill, which dates back to the 1600s, is still working today, with daily milling and pottery demonstrations. What's more, the mill is now set in several acres of pretty farmland, with visiting families invited to spend the day feeding the ducks and fish in the mill ponds or simply strolling through the ancient oak woodlands.
 
Dimbola Lodge

The former home of the celebrated Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, the lodge has now been transformed into a visitor centre and gallery showcasing both historic and contemporary works. Despite being critically-acclaimed, it's rarely too busy, making it a good rainy day option for culture vultures.ADNFCR-3083-ID-801673809-ADNFCR

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